I HEARD a sinister statistic yesterday. By 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than there are fish. There are seabirds with guts full of plastics that are eating fish full of microplastics.

There are whales drifting through the oceans swallowing so much waste that they can’t eat, so they starve to death before washing up on our beaches full of garbage.

Such a sight is a damning monument to our neglect of our planet, our poor stewardship and our addiction to packaging. The whales are dying, the fish and birds are dying. We’re buying Evian, and shares in our own planetary demise.

But what would a plastic-free world even look like?

Well, for one, I’d be sitting in a pretty bare room. The cafe at the Emirates Arena is brimming with the stuff. Moulded Eames-style chairs, half-filled 500ml plastic bottles on every table, along with polystyrene plates and coffee and smoothie cups.

And so many straws. There are plastic water bottles for sale, plastic bags under chairs, plastic cards in everyone’s pockets.

The more I look, the more alarming it becomes. It’s everywhere. There’s hardly a square metre without plastic in it.

It’s especially alarming because I’ve always been an incorrigible plastic enthusiast. To me, it screamed modernity, Kevlar, starships, nylons. The space-age seduction of it grabbed me early in life and never let go. Right now my fingers are covered in ice-cream coloured rings, there’s a Lucite bracelet around my wrist, Bakelite in my ears.

My love of pretty polymers stems from what it symbolised in our culture: science, space, the future. But the love affair has to end. What was once the material that symbolised our advancement has become the tool of our undoing. Plastics have made their way irreversibly way into the foodchain, there are microbeads in our water, and Bisphenol-A in our cells.

We have knitted plastic into our society, allowed it to take the place of natural materials to the extent that it’s almost impossible to imagine modern life without it.

But we have to face the consequences of our plastic addiction. We’re accustomed to the ease it affords us, a single-use and disposable lifestyle, despite the immense cost to our planet. We have to stop treating our waste someone else’s problem. We know about bags and straws, but there are lots of other ways to use less of the stuff.

Here are a few of the simple switches you can make to shrink your plastic waste.

1. Drinks: Don’t buy bottled water. Not only are you buying something that we’re lucky enough to get from a tap for free, our water habit is contributing to the one million bottles purchased every day – a number that’s going to rise by a fifth by 2021. And if you’re buying take-out coffee, take your own cup.

2. Chocolate: If you have a sweet tooth like I do, you can make a simple swap to reduce your impact on the environment. Opt for paper-wrapped chocolate.

The good thing is, these products are usually made by smaller confectioners and have less sugar. You can feel smug on three fronts!

3. Teeth: How much does your dental habit cost you? Replacing brushes and mouthwash bottles adds up. You can switch to bamboo brushes, which not only look great in the bathroom but are kinder to your teeth, gums and the planet. You can leave the mouthwash where it is, too. The internet is full of simple, cheap and effective recipes for that. You can make them in minutes and store it in a glass bottle in your bathroom.

4. Periods: Periods already cost a fortune, but they don’t have to cost the earth. Switching to a reusable menstrual cup or reusable/eco sanitary towels is an easy way to cut down on your plastic consumption and landfill contribution over your lifetime. Plus, after just a few months you’ll have saved what you would have spent on pads, and you’ll never be without again.

5. Soap: We ditched shower gel and hand wash a while back in favour of a good old-fashioned bar of soap. Not only have we cut down on packaging, but we’re also being kinder to our skin with more natural ingredients and fewer chemical nasties. If you’re feeling crafty, you can even make your own.

While most of us can’t lead a plastic-free life, reducing our reliance on the stuff is one thing we can all do with little effort.

Faced with a mess that’s too big to clean up, something has to change and fast. Why not make small changes you can stick to? When it comes to the environment, agnosticism isn’t an option any more. Lots of us doing a little is far better than

occasional grand gestures.